GCU wins third straight with win over Cal Baptist

slider gcu_lopesThe Grand Canyon University men’s basketball team won their third-straight game; all on the road, with a 65-55 win over Cal Baptist at Van Dyne Gym in Riverside, Calif.

The win improves GCU’s overall record to 13-7, 7-5 in the Pacific West Conference. CBU falls to 15-4, 9-3.

The three-win road streak is also the first since the ‘Lopes won three in a row from Feb. 14-17, 2007 in Hawai’i.

“A key tonight was that we never let them get away from us,” said head coach Russ Pennell. “Every time they would make a little run we would answer it. We made some big plays and hit some big free throws down the stretch.  We would obviously rather play from ahead, but I think the other side of that is you always want to be in striking distance. We were in that position the entire game.”

The Antelopes trailed throughout the game and found themselves down 53-48 with 8:23 remaining in the game. Two Justin Wesolowski free throws with 8:06 left triggered a 17-2 GCU run to close out the game. Steve Morin, who has been red-hot from behind the arc, hit his lone three of the contest to knot the game up at 53. It marked the sixth and final tie score of the game.

Nick Witherill sank a free throw with 4:34 left to give GCU its first lead of the game, 54-53, since the 16:34 mark of the first half. A Blake Davis three would then push the lead to four. Kyle Speed took over from there, scoring six of his nine points in the game’s final three minutes to help secure the win and keep the ‘Lopes in the hunt for a postseason spot.

“In the first half we felt like (Speed) was searching a bit,” said Pennell. “He was facing double teams most of the time. In the clutch moments he really stepped up and led our team, as you want seniors to do.”

GCU, who trailed 30-28 at the half, shot 58 percent in the second half on 11-for-19 shooting.

“We didn’t feel like we were moving well enough in the first half,” added Pennell. “We switched to an offense that had a little more movement. That offensive set really allowed us to free up some shots for our outside guys to knock down.”

Jerome Garrison led the Antelopes with 17 points. Nick Witherill added 11 points. Blake Davis finished with eight points and five rebounds.

Grand Canyon will return to action this Monday, Feb. 13, when they face Academy of Art at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

“I already sounded the alarm and let the guys know that Monday can be a trap game if we are not ready,” said Pennell. “We are coming of the Hawai’i trip and I still don’t think we are adjusted physically yet. We battled hard tonight and won in a tough building. If we don’t watch it, we will go home and play someone’s record and not the team. But I think this team is bigger than allowing that to happen.”

The Antelopes will close out their season with five of their final six games coming at home.